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Business travel spending gains momentum as economy improves

Business travel spending gains momentum as economy improves

An improving economic outlook with business and consumer confidence on the rise is expected to boost business travel in 2013, leading the Global Business Travel Association to upgrade its forecast for the year.  Stronger corporate profits, increasing job development and improvements in key export markets are fueling business travel spending after a sluggish fourth quarter that was dampened by political uncertainty due to the “fiscal cliff” debate.

According to the GBTA BTI™ Outlook – United States 2013 Q1, a report from the Global Business Travel Association sponsored by Visa, Inc., U.S. business travel is now expected to rise 5.1% in 2013 to $268.5 billion, which is an upgrade from the 4.6% growth to $266.7 billion that GBTA predicted last quarter and a substantial increase from 1.8% growth in 2012.

GBTA’s forecast upgrade will be driven in part by stronger growth in group spending, which is now expected to increase 6.0% to $115.9 billion – up from 5.2% growth forecast in Q4.

GBTA’s outlook for trip volume remains essentially the same from last quarter – a slight decline of -1.1% to 431.7 million person-trips.
“Business confidence is up and the need to compete in the global economy is driving companies to invest in business travel,” said Michael W. McCormick , GBTA executive director and COO.  “Despite continued political uncertainty in the U.S. and around the world, businesses are beginning to break out of their holding pattern and seek growth more aggressively.  While there are still many factors that could hamper the economy again, from the impact of sequestration to rising energy prices, business travel spending is heading in the right direction so far in 2013.”

“As corporate and consumer spending confidence rises, the business travel forecast in the United States is starting to brighten,” said Tad Fordyce , head of global commercial solutions at Visa Inc. “While the report shows the trip volume among business travelers will remain steady, we remain optimistic that stronger spending will help 2013 business travel exceed its pre-recession high.”